Thomas is clear Tour favourite, says former team-mate
Defending champion Geraint Thomas is the clear favourite at the Tour de France due to the absence of Team INEOS colleague Chris Froome, according to Richie Porte.
Thomas won the general classification last year for his first Grand Tour triumph, pipping Tom Dumoulin and team-mate Froome.
The Welshman has been named as INEOS co-leader this year along with Egan Bernal, with Froome missing as he recovers from fractures to his right femur, elbow and ribs sustained at the Criterium du Dauphine.
And Porte, who previously rode with Thomas at Team Sky, is backing the 33-year-old to capitalise with another win, suggesting he could even be stronger this year.
"I think that Geraint Thomas is the clear favourite," the Trek-Segafredo rider said in a press conference on Thursday. "He won it last year and he's probably in better shape this year, too.
"It's a shame that Chris Froome is not here but it does change everything. It means Thomas now has to be the out-and-out favourite with INEOS. I'd expect them to back him 100 per cent."
Thomas is fit for the Tour having recovered from his own crash at the Tour de Suisse.